As some of you know my cousin's wife Emilee has been battling stage 4 breast cancer for the past 6 years. She came down last month to California briefly for a visit. Our time together was short but I was grateful for it. After her trip she had a quick decline and past away yesterday morning.
I've been following her blog. Her sister in law took over for her at the end and this is what she wrote...
"Our sweet Emilee passed away this morning around 8:00 a.m. We rejoice she is relieved from pain and is in the arms of those who went before her who are welcoming her and watching over her. It is a comfort she passed on March 4th, as she has always “marched forth” through life's adventures and through her cancer journey. Now she is marching forth to her calling in heaven."
I first met Emilee when I was going to BYU. I bumped into her and my cousin David, on one of their first dates. I had seen David and his dates before (including one of my roommates) but this was different. As Jeff would come up to BYU to visit me we would go on double dates with David and Emilee. It was fun to experience dating, getting serious then marrying our spouses together. They jumped the gun on us and got married about 4 months before us and then started their family right away. Emilee always told me in those early years to "hurry up and have children, because they are such a joy" Gratefully she didn't wait as long as I did because none of us knew how much shorter her time would be with them. We've enjoyed visiting with them when we would come up to Utah and we've enjoyed them as they came to visit us when they would take California trips.
After Emilee was diagnosed with cancer she was able to enjoy trips all over the world, adventures and some good years with her husband and children due to the medications that kept the cancer somewhat under control. For the past couple of years she's undergone numerous proceedures and rounds of chemo along with the emotional and physical suffering that comes with it.
Throughout her trials I have seen her become better instead of bitter. The first time she visited us after her mastectomy she said "Do you want to see my scar?" and she showed me. She was very open and honest with her illness and her feelings. She acknowledged it and then continued marching forth...not letting it stop her.
She had her times of feeling depressed and anxious but in the end she always came off striving to have more trust in the Lord and faith that everything would be OK. When I saw her last she had just been able to go on a whale watching tour that morning. The whales that are normally only seen from a distance came so close to their boat and stayed so long the naturalist was completely amazed. He said that there hadn't been a trip like it in over 4 years and he told the passengers to not let anyone else know about it because it was so rare. Was it a coincindence? I don't think so. As she was describing her experience she was moved to tears with the gratitude that she had to observe God's creatures that day.
For one thing it was a wake up call to me to appreciate my life more, and be more grateful. For another thing it confirmed to me something that I learned in Relief Society...the blacker the trials the brighter our blessings seem. The key to seeing our blessings during our blackest times is a grateful heart. Emilee has let her suffering bring her closer to her family and to the Lord. I will look to her as an example as I pass through my own trials of life.
We love you Emilee, and we'll miss you!